Swing Discussion Boards > Learning to swing dance on a budget

Discussion in 'Swing Discussion Boards' started by East Coast Bluesboy, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. This is actually a continuation of my thread I posted yesterday on dips. Anyway, here's my predicament...

    I've been swing dancing for about nine months now. I fell in love with it as soon as I started learning. My scene has dances about five days a week, and I go to all of them except Tuesday, which is the group lessons. Tuesday nights are always busy for me, so I never can make it out. Other than that, I pretty much go to every swing dance there is. On Friday nights, they give a beginner group lesson before the dance, which is included in the cover charge. That's how I really started learning...just through those quick lessons. But they always teach the same basic things to cater to the beginners. They'll teach a new move once in a blue moon, but very seldom is it anything exciting. So as I'm sure you can imagine, after doing the same basic steps for nine months, I'm getting a bit bored. I want to learn some new stuff like dips and some lindy hop swingouts.

    The problem is that, as I said, the only group lessons they give in my scene are the Tuesday night classes, which I can't make due to prior commitments, and the Friday night lessons, which I go to, but they never teach anything new. The only other option is private lessons. I have taken two private lessons so far, and I could hardly afford those. Swing dance lessons from my local instructors run from $50-$100. Call me a cheapskate, but that is way too expensive for me. As much as I want to be a better dancer, I'm not spending my entire life savings on dance lessons.

    So on to my question...does anyone know of any ways to learn some new stuff without spending a fortune? Cheap classes that aren't on Tuesdays? Video lessons? Anything?
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    What kind of swing? There at least several major styles.
  3. All I really know is east coast swing/six-count lindy hop (not sure what the difference is) and blues. Right now, I think I'd mainly like to build on what I already know with some fun new moves and maybe learn a little bit of eight-count lindy. Some Charleston would be fun too.
  4. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Have you checked local libraries to see if they have any video materials that you could borrow? Or even those old fashion paper things?

    Looks like there are lots of beginner East Coast Swing clips on YouTube.
    Seems like eHow had a bunch of clips, too.
    If you find things and want the DF collective to give you opinions on materials, I think you might get some feedback. (Maybe one at at time if you want to go there.)
    For instance, it sounds like (other thread) the lessons you've been taking haven't included information on basic things and have been pattern oriented. That sound correct?

    Lindy... I claim willful ignorance.

    I get too much static on my cowboy/red neck style two step and East Coast would fill that void, and I have considered brushing up on ECS since it's the same "count" as two step.

    You in Texas (you have a Mario Robau quote)?
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If you want to learn about important things that will serve you well in many different dances, start looking at Skippy Blair's writings, much of which can be found on the internet, but you won't get many cool moves for sure.

    And, I can think of maybe 6 ways to do an "East Coast Swing" basic, and it all has to do with when and if you step with an unchanged "basic pattern" of side side back step. (Can't do them reliably, mind you, but can think of them.)
    j_alexandra likes this.
  6. Hmm...I'll look some up. The only thing is that I'd be hesitant to watch a video and then try it on a real person a few days later. Watching it and doing it are two totally different things. What I'd REALLY like to do is have someone to practice with, who's not an actual instructor, where we could watch and try different stuff together (for free). Not sure how realistic that is, though. But yeah, if I find anything, I'll post it here.

    What exactly do you mean by "basic things?" They are very pattern-oriented. They always start us out with the basic rock step, triple step, triple step, then teach us how to move around the room, and then usually teach us a few basic turns (inside, outside, jackhammer, and cuddle). They don't teach much outside of that. I understand why though...it's a beginner lesson because new people show up every time. They have to cater to all the newbies so they'll be in the loop.

    Main reason I want to learn lindy is because I'd say about 90% of the dancers in my scene do lindy. I'm not saying I want to be just like them, but I am saying that sometimes I feel like my partner gets bored with my dancing because she's so used to lindy. I've taken two lessons on the basic swingout and a few turns, but it's really hard because it's so different than east coast. I have to completely change the way I think about dancing. And then, all the sudden, it's time for the Friday night dance again, and they're teaching east coast, so I revert back to my old ways. AAAAAAGH!!!

    No, but I'm actually from Texas originally. I live in Tennessee now. Kind of a coincidence though...I'd never even heard of Robau before. I was just looking for a good quote about swing dancing when I signed up for this forum and happened to stumble across that one. Are you?
  7. Also, I will admit that I can't remember the last time I visited a library. I'm not much of a reader.
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Not from Texas. I just know that Robau is, and I see his name a lot associated mostly with West Coast Swing, and I think he did country western, too?

    I have to tell you that I don't much understand why the young guys where I dance (the ones who don't know how to dance when they start coming around) never ask about how to do things. They smile, they high five me, etc. so I think they think I'm ok, and I am often asked to dance by the young gals - so there. On the other hand, I'm a guy, so I know how that goes. It doesn't.

    So, why not buddy up to someone and say, Hey, man, I like the way you do that thing. Can you give me some pointers on it? (Well, ok, have have to pick the right guy to aks, I know.) Personally, I probably never would but...

    Once you find a "move" you like (simple, hoepfully), you could ask some of the friendlier women to help you figure it out, or practice it. (be sure to ask for help) Don't take too much of their time, though. Getting rejected for this can't be much worse than being turned down for a dance, maybe.

    Basics? : hearing the beat and staying"on time," "moving from your "center"," "counterbalancing" or what some people call "leverage", resistance... etc

    Stuff like that which can make you a good dancer, and someone women will want to dance with even if you just do mostly basic moves. (Hard to believe, I know.)

    You know, back in the day, most teachers would teach simple stuff first, then add more and more complexity. That doesn't happen much these days it seems.
  9. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    There's a lot to be learned from group classes, as long they're taught by decent teachers, and are progressive. Most lessons before dances miss at least one of those two requirements.
    Workshop weekends can be quite productive.
    Honestly, either you're probably going to have to shell out the money for private lessons, or make the Tuesday classes a priority.

    Otherwise, a good tool in getting better is a practice partner. That would allow you to potentially split the cost of privates. More importantly it would mean you could watch videos and try it out immediately. Plenty of good swing dancers got there from a lot of practice without a ton of private lessons.

    For good lindy instruction online see howtodance.com (it's the pet project of our friend the dance and programming geek).
    pygmalion likes this.
  10. LindyKeya

    LindyKeya Member

    Oh, and you know the saying for construction? "Good, fast (convenient, in this case), or cheap: pick two." It applies to dance lessons too. Decide which you're willing to compromise on.
    pygmalion and samina like this.
  11. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    You say that the group classes in your "scene" are on Tuesday evenings -- what about group classes outside of your "scene" but in your town/region? If you're in a place that's big enough to support dances five nights a week, there's got to be a few studios or other swing instruction opportunities. Ask around (the more advanced dancers, especially) when you're out dancing to see what places are respected and teach a style that will work in that crowd. Hopefully you can find some group classes that will work for your schedule.
  12. juwest333

    juwest333 Active Member

    If it is Lindy you are after, Rebecca Brightly has a blog called "Dance World Takeover" (Google it) that has a wealth of information aimed at beginner and intermediate Lindy Hoppers (can apply to other types of swing dancing as well). Everything from how to practice, dancing etiquette, links to most helpful youtube videos, etc. are there.

    Practicing on your own is the single, most important thing that will improve your dancing.
    pygmalion likes this.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Thanks, juwest. That's a great site. :)
  14. That is a very good blog. I actually have read an article from it (The Myth of the Perfect Follow). I just subscribed and downloaded the Ten Dance Secrets PDF, which seems pretty useful.

    How exactly do I practice partner dancing on my own?
  15. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I started dabbling with Lindy in the New Year, but I've found the classes available locally to be very frustrating. They're really well attended, but with a constant turnover of people - some come every week, but others drift in for a week or two, and then disappear, to be replaced by other newbies. The instructors are good, but I was dismayed, last week, to hear that 'because of the newbies' we weren't going to continue with further Charleston moves, but instead, go back to the very beginning, and learn the 8-count basic in jockey position. And that's all we did, for thirty minutes, and then for the last ten minutes, we did a send out to open position, but didn't cover coming back in again (although its obvious enough what you'd need to do, and most of us had done it before, anyway).

    The other frustration is that the class has been starting later and later, so that what should be an hour is now down to forty minutes. It isn't expensive, but I'd quite like to get the hour, and I'd quite like the class to be properly progressive. At the moment, I can see no route to progress to their higher level class. I have a journey to and from the venue that is roughly equal to the class time, which falls in the middle of an evening, so in effect, I am devoting an evening of my week to repeating a foundation beginner class, again and again. If this was my class, I'd adopt a different format, and have a way of getting newbies started that didn't stop people who have been attending for ten weeks continuing to progress.
  16. Yeah, your class sounds a lot like the Friday night beginner lesson I take, except it's "six count lindy," which is essentially the same thing as east coast swing. If you want to make any progress, you have to take the Tuesday classes. The Tuesday classes progress month to month. One month is basic beginner swing (six count lindy/east coast swing), the next month is Lindy Hop 1, and the third month is Lindy Hop 2. But again, I've never been able to go to a single one because I have prior commitments on Tuesday nights, and they aren't willing to change the days. So I get stuck with the repetitive Friday night beginner "classes."
  17. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I don't have the equivalent option, though. They teach in a variety of venues, and are only in town one night a week. The two classes run consecutively, but are a gulf apart, in terms of level, and I can see no way to get from one to the other. They've never mentioned progression, and I'm beginning to wonder whether the beginners class is just a money-maker - they know that everyone will drop out within 2-3 months, but there is a ready supply of newbies ...

    I've no idea how the members of the second class got their instruction, but they all know each other, and for all I know they've been dancing for years, not weeks.
  18. That could very well be true. Your swing dance scene has to make money somehow, so if that's all they do to raise funds, it's not like they can just quit. My scene only makes money from the Tuesday classes and the Friday night dance. All the other swing dances in town aren't affiliated with our scene. Not sure how yours works though.
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

  20. Holy freaking crap. You totally just stalked me.

    I added most of the events to that Meetup group, by the way. I'm kind of in charge of it.

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